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Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > DeFeet ArmSkins > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

DEFEET ARMSKINS ARM WARMERS

Initial Report - March 2, 2008
Field Report - May 27, 2008
Long Term Report - July 24, 2008


Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  50
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, hiking and backpacking mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have started a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 200 mi (300 km) in the last two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally I use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Initial Report - March 2, 2008


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  DeFeet
Year of manufacture:  2008
Model:  Wool ArmSkins
Color:  Charcoal
Size:  Large/Extra Large
 
Advertised weight:  N/A
  Measured weight:  2.9 oz (82 g)

Approx. length:  18.5 in (47 cm)
Approx. circumference:  8 in (30.5 cm)

  Website: www.defeet.com
MSRP:  $27.00
As packaged

OverviewProduct Description:

The DeFeet ArmSkins are a medium weight arm warmer, available in CoolMax or Wool.  The hangtag with the Wool model I am testing indicates they are 80% Merino Wool, 19% Nylon, and 1% Lycra.  The finely knit fabric has a stretchy feel, similar to wool socks, and is in the form of a simple tube that is slightly wider at the top and narrows toward the bottom.  The "No-Vertical Seam Design" is patented, according to DeFeet.

A more loosely woven cuff at the bottom fits my wrist more tightly and is about 3 in (7.5 cm) long and 6.5 in (16.5 cm) in circumference.  The top of the ArmSkin has a rib knit section approximately 0.5 in (1.5 cm) long that rolls down upon itself, which DeFeet calls "The Securl rolltop".  The hangtag indicates this top helps the ArmSkins stay in place, as does the "Stayfast cuff".

The Charcoal color is, as I expected, a very dark grey.  DeFeet's logo is knit into the fabric in medium grey on the cuff and about a quarter of the way down from the top.  The fabric is supposed to be wind resistant and breathable, as well as having properties to wick moisture away from the body.

The ArmSkins are available in two sizes - Small/Medium, which fits those under 5'9" and 160 lb (1.75 m and 73 kg) or Large/Extra Large, which fits those over 5'9" and 160 lb (1.75 m and 73 kg). 

Laundering instructions on the hangtag indicate to machine wash in cold water, tumble dry on low heat, and not to use chlorine bleach.  There are no tags or labels (other than the knitted logos) on the ArmSkins themselves.

Trying them on:

Although I am under 5'9", I chose the larger size due to my weight and having disliked the way tight arm warmers fit in the past.  I am very satisfied with the way they fit.  I could pull them on over a long sleeve cotton T-shirt without them feeling too tight, yet they still feel fitted enough for maximum warmth when I wear them on my bare arm.  They are a little long, as I expected they would be due to my size choice, however this gives me the option of pulling them down over my hands a bit for warmth, so I look at it as a positive.

Preliminary Impressions:

So far I like the soft texture and fitted, but not overly tight, feel of the ArmSkins.  They can be rolled up to around 2.5 x 4.5 in (6.5 x 11.5 cm), so they should take up little room in my pack.

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report - May 27, 2008

Field Conditions:

Over the last two months, I have worn the DeFeet ArmSkins on four short dayhikes of around 3 mi (5 km) in western West Virginia in temperatures around 30 F to 50 F  (-1 to 10 C).  I also took them along in my pack on a longer dayhike of about 11 mi (18 km) in the Damascus, Virginia area.  Due to wearing a rain jacket during the entire hike to cope with a drizzly rain, and with temperatures mostly in the 50-60 F range, I stayed amply warm with only a base layer and the rain jacket, and did not wear the ArmSkins.  It was however nice to know that extra warmth was there in my pack in case I needed it, and the ArmSkins took up only a little space and added only a small amount of weight to my pack.

My most significant use of the ArmSkins was during a 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip in the Canaan Mountain area of the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia, covering around 27 mi (43.5 km).  Conditions ran the gamut on this trip.  The first day was cool, with temperatures in the 50 - 60 F (10-16 C) range, dropping to just above freezing (around 33 F/1 C) the first night.  The second day was warmer, with night temperatures only falling to around 52 F (11 C).  The trail was a difficult mixture of roots, rocks, and mud bogs, with a few small stretches of gravel forest roads.

Use and Findings So Far:

Wearing the ArmSkins on a breakMost of the time I have worn the ArmSkins over a light long sleeved wool shirt.  On the short dayhikes, I found the ArmSkins and the Warmfront chest warmer that I am also testing were ample to keep me warm while hiking in temperatures down to around 40 F (4 C).  If it was colder, I found that I needed to add a light jacket such as a windshirt or rain jacket to feel comfortable down to around 30 F (-1 C).  The ArmSkins felt comfortable to wear, and did a great job providing warmth any time my arms felt cool.  They also deflected wind very well.  One thing I found I really liked during the dayhikes is that as I warmed up on uphill or sunny stretches, I could push the ArmSkins down around my wrists to cool my upper arms off.  Then if it got cooler (or I wasn't working as hard on downhill stretches) I could simply pull them back up.  If it got really warm and I did not expect cooler conditions ahead, I could completely remove them and easily stow them in a cargo pants pocket, a fanny pack, or a day pack.

During the Canaan Mountain trip I was able to fully experience the versatility of the ArmSkins.  As temperatures cooled on the first evening, I pulled a wool zip-T neck shirt over the tank top I wore while hiking, then pulled the ArmSkins over the wool shirt.  As it got cooler yet, I added a nylon button up shirt and the Warmfront chest warmer.  Since the group I was with had started a campfire, I was hesitant to wear my down jacket near the fire and risk a hole from a popping ember, so I was happy that this upper layer combination was enough to keep me warm by the campfire.  Once I retired to my hammock, I added my down jacket over top, and combined with wool leggings, light synthetic insulated pants, and a summer weight quilt I managed to keep mostly warm even as the temperature dipped near freezing.  My arms were amply warm - it was my feet that were the problem.

The second day of the backpacking trip, I found the ArmSkins were very welcome to pull on during breaks, and easy to shed once I began walking again.  To the right is a photo of me wearing them over my wool shirt while enjoying a break from hiking.  I again wore them around camp during the evening and also slept with them on my arms, although on this warmer night I did not need to layer as many pieces.  I wore the tank top, the Warmfront chest warmer, the light wool top, and the ArmSkins and was toasty warm all night.

So far the ArmSkins are holding up well.  They have a couple of small 'picked' spots, but no holes or signs of major wear.  I have not yet had to launder them, but will soon be doing so and will report on the results of laundering in my Long Term Report.

I have found the best way to pull them on over a long sleeved shirt has been to grab the cuff of the shirt and hold it down with my thumb, while pulling the ArmSkins up with the opposite hand.  This way, the shirt underneath doesn't wrinkle or bunch up.  I can also pull a looser sleeved shirt (such as a nylon button up shirt) or a outer layer jacket easily over the ArmSkins.

Summary:

As an ultralight packer always looking to shed a few ounces from my pack, I am quite pleased with the versatility the ArmSkins provide at the minimal weight of 2.9 oz (82 g).  Since my arms and legs are usually where I feel the cold fastest, the ArmSkins provide a lot of comfort for little weight.  I've found them a great component of a light weight sleeping system, and with a few other light weight clothing items I have been able to stretch the temperature range of my light summer quilt down to around freezing.  I look forward to additional testing over the next couple of months and as temperature warm up, using them with a short sleeve shirt for cool mornings.

This concludes my Field Report.

Long Term Report - July 24, 2008

Field Conditions:

Since my last report, the advent of summer has meant mostly hot and humid weather, so I have not had much of a chance to actually wear the ArmSkins.

In early June I wore the ArmSkins on a short (3 mi/5m) hike in western West Virginia, with temperatures in the low 60 F (16 C) range and clear conditions with no wind.  About a third of the way into the hike I felt they were too warm and pushed them down to my wrists and wore them that way for a while.  After another mile (km) or so, they felt too warm even on my wrist, so I peeled them off and stowed them in the cargo pockets of my pants.

In late June, I took them on an 11.4 mi/18.4 km day hike on the Appalachian Trail in the southern part of Shenandoah National Park.  The weather was humid and hot (in the 80-90 F/27-32 C range), so they stayed in my pack as 'extra' clothing in the event we ended up being out later than expected and temperatures dropped.  Most of the trail was shady with only a couple of small sections being exposed to the sun.  A moderate storm kicked up toward the end of the hike, and we ended up hiking about 2 mi/3 km in varying amounts of rain.  Even with the slight drop in temperature, I was never cool enough to wear the ArmSkins.

In early July, I took them on a day hike of about 5 mi/8 km in western West Virginia, but with the temperatures again approach 90 F (32 C), I had no need to wear them.

Use and findings:

They pack smallUnfortunately due to the hot and humid weather, this phase of the test has mainly been limited to finding out how easy it was to store and carry the ArmSkins.  They passed this test with flying colors.  I found I could pack the ArmSkins, a light weight pair of gloves, and a Buff in a quart size Ziplock bag, which was easy to stow in either the small or large pocket of my day pack.  With this packet of 'emergency' clothing and a rain jacket, I felt I was adequately prepared for summer weather conditions even if temperatures dropped or an emergency situation arose where we needed to shelter for the night instead of completing the intended hike in a day.

Similar to my findings in the Field Test phase, I felt it was nice to have the option of pushing the ArmSkins down without totally removing them in order to cool off a little in moderate temperatures.

During this portion of the test, I laundered the ArmSkins once.  I simply tossed them in the washer with a load of wool hiking socks and Woolite Detergent on the gentle cycle.  There was no noticeable effect on the ArmSkins from laundering, other than a slightly more pleasant odor.  I hung them over a hanger overnight and found they were dry the next morning.

Summary:

For a scant 2.9 oz (82 g) I've found the ArmSkins an excellent addition to my clothing kit.  They really help with warmth when needed and when I just want to take a minimum amount of 'emergency' clothing they pack small and stow easily.  I like the way they fit snugly without being too tight or feeling binding.

I have noticed no additional wear and tear other than the small snagged threads noted in my Field Report, which has not become worse.  They are comfortable if I want to wear them over my bare arms, and also easy to pull off and on over a long sleeved light weight shirt if reasonable care is taken to hold the sleeves down while I pull the ArmSkins over them.

The ArmSkins will definitely be part of my backpacking clothing system in all but the hottest summer months.  I will also be carrying them on many day hikes, either as 'emergency' clothing in warmer weather, or while hiking in colder weather, for maximum warmth and minimal weight.

This concludes the test series.

Thanks to DeFeet and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the versatile and comfortable ArmSkins.


Read more reviews of DeFeet gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > DeFeet ArmSkins > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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